Workshop Handtools

The latest and best

Tried and Tested by Fred-in-the-shed

Updated 5th January 2018

 

On This Page

Best Screwdrivers Tested

Automatic Spring Punches

Hacksaws

Socket Sets

Ratchet Spanners

Allen Key Sets

Hand Files

Grinding and Polishing tools

 

 

Incredible 6 SIZE Screwdriver!

King Dick Super 2000

Finding the right screwdriver can be a real pain tool and identifying between Philips and Pozidrive screw heads is not easy. This is why I absolutely love this unique, German designed screwdriver that can be used on both types of crosshead screw and more amazingly 3 sizes of each.

Oh , I hear you say what is wrong with a screwdriver where you put small bits in? nothing is the answer, but this tool is faster to use and you cant lose the bits!

When I first saw this tool I was sceptical as multi purpose tools are never as good as single purpose ones and often hardly work at all. After extensive use I can confirm that it does what it says on the tin, and this is one tool I do not want to be without.

Ideal to keep in the car, kitchen drawer, or anywhere you need to save space or weight.

Philips or Pozi - large to small !

 

 King Dick 1 For 6 Long 200mm Blade

New Colour Coded Screwdriver set for easier tool identification

When you have a tool box full of different screwdrivers and you are looking for a Philips screwdriver it is so easy to pick up a pozidrive one by mistake and then bugger up the screw head. Unless you have eagle eyesight it can be hard to select the correct tool. Or if you are working with a helper it can be hard to describe the tool you need. That's why I love these colour coded screwdrivers. Red for flat head (plains slot) blue for Phillips (cross slot) and green for Pozidrive.

These Draper pro quality screwdrivers have all the features like the hex nut below the handle, on the larger sizes,  so you can apply a spanner for extra force. The set has the most useful sizes and lengths to fit the 3 most common screw types. 

Draper Expert 16 Piece Engineers Screwdriver Set

Colour Coded - For faster tool selection

The right tool for the right job!

 

 Draper 43571 16-Piece Screwdriver Set

 

Best Small Screwdriver for your Pocket, Handbag or Kitchen Draw

This pen size screwdriver can deal with the 4 most common screw types found in the home and is small enough to fit in a handbag or kitchen drawer.

It has a clip for your top pocket and even looks like a pen.

The clever design gives you fast easy access to 2 sizes of cross head and 2 slotted bits. Once fitted they are secured well and I have been surprised at the jobs I have been able to do with this little gem.  This is a must have tool and one that I often buy as gifts for family and friends.

 

 Stanley 66-344M 4-in-1 Pocket Screwdriver

 
 
 

Pound Thru Screwdrivers

If you get a tight screw, tapping your screwdriver with a hammer may help but many screwdrivers will break after a few bashes.

The solution is specially designed  POUND THRU SCREWDRIVERS.

Some people call these extra strong screwdrivers "chisel drivers".

The are made stronger by a shaft that runs right through the tool and a metal cap on the end to prevent splintering of the handle.

The Draper set below is also colour coded by type for fast identification.

 

Toughest and Best Simple Screwdriver

 

Pound thru or chisel screwdrivers from Draper and Wera 

 Draper 40005 6PC POUND THRU SCREWDRIVER SET

 Wera Chiseldriver with Pound-Thru Blade Screwdriver Set Phillips / Slotted, 6-Piece

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Spring Punches - No Need for a Hammer!

These top quality US made punches give a massive punch - without the use of a hammer!

For marking materials, pushing in pins and nails - Fast, easy and accurate to use,

 

 Spring Tools Two Bit Snapper Center Punch & Nail Setter 32R02-1

 Spring Tools Paint Pro Pak Nail Set & Door Pin Remover PM407

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Hacksaw Test - Fred Finds the Best

   

 

The humble hacksaw is one of the most important tools in any workshop. Even if you have all the latest expensive machinery you will always need a hacksaw.

The basic hacksaw is a simple and effective tool and its performance is mostly dependant on the quality and tension of the blade.

The standard size for a hacksaw blade is 12 inches and they come in various teeth sizes to suit different materials. 24 teeth per inch is the norm.

Softer material like copper requires a coarser blade with less teeth, like 18 teeth per inch. Hard materials like stainless steel require 32 teeth per inch.

The Bahco 319 hacksaw is very comfortable and has a concealed but easy to use blade tension adjuster.

This is a no-frills mid range hacksaw suitable for DIY and professional use. I lent a range of hacksaws to my friends at Oxford University Engineering and this one came out top due to its rigidity and comfortable grips.

 

 Bahco 319 Hacksaw Frame

buy the best bi-metal hacksaw blades 

 

Powered Hacksaws - The Scorpion!

The Scorpion from Black & Decker has been around many years now. It's 3 easy change blades do the job of a wood saw, hacksaw and jigsaw. Only problem - the Scorpion is a bit of a Porker at nearly 2kg, so unless you have a lot of cutting to do it may be easier to use a hand tool. 

The Scorpion performs the function of a jigsaw with the added bonus of being a powered hacksaw. Ideal for DIY and great for people who don't have the strength and/or have lots of the same thing to cut up, like firewood.

 

Black + Decker KS890ECN Scorpion Saw

 Black + Decker RS890K-GB Scorpion-Powered Hand Saw with Kitbox and Auto-Select, 500 W

 Piranha X29991-XJ Scorpion Value Pack

 

The Black & Decker Scorpion is an effective tool but could be more robust. A new, more powerful model has been launched that seems to have resolved this.

The other disadvantage is that it uses specialist blades that are expensive and can be hard to get.

A more sensible option is reciprocating saw (Sabre Saw), as they use standard fitting, easily available blades. 

The Von Haus bargain below has a good spec but comes with nasty blades so you could buy it and fit decent blades for the most cost effective solution. Bosch make a better quality saw but at a cost.

 

 VonHaus 710W 230V Reciprocating Saw Free 2 Year Warranty featuring Rotating Handle with 2 Blades for Wood & Metal Cutting

 Bosch PSA 700 E Multi-Saw

 RPR10MX Saxton 10 Blade Reciprocating Sabre Saw Combo Wood & Metal fits Bosch, Dewalt Makita

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Best Socket Sets

 Draper 43636 1/2 inch Socket Set in 12-Point Metal Case - 41 Pieces

 Hilka 02102202 3/8-inch Pro Craft Surface Drive Metric Socket Set

Socket sets are essential for anyone working with nuts and bolts and come in a range of sizes and qualities.

This old socket set belongs to my friend Ken and has had decades of use. It still functions perfectly and Ken loves it. It was made by Draper who are based in Southampton. I don't have a lot of use for socket sets nowadays but I do own a nice 26 piece Hilka socket set that I have had for 17 years and can thoroughly recommend.

If you start off buying a good quality set then it should last your lifetime. You might wear out or lose a few of the popular sizes but you can easily replace them individually.  

The current equivalent is the Draper expert set, as recommended by my Engineer friend Dangerous Dave.

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Ratchet Spanners - Save Time and Effort

These spanners have a clever little ratchet mechanism built into the ring spanner end. This means that nuts can be moved very quickly with short movements of the spanner.

Due to the extra parts they are not the cheapest spanners but could save you a lot of time and arm action.

The only downside with ratchet spanners is that they are less robust  than a standard one piece spanner so don't use them for tightening or loosening really tough nuts- i.e. not suitable for high torque situations.

Approved by my testers at Oxford University Engineering and also BJ Autos - (Barry and Gary in the garage that services my cars.)

 Bergen Professional Trade Quality 12 Piece Metric Combination Ratchet Spanner Set, 8-19mm - BER1890

 Am-Tech Offset Ring Ratchet Spanner (5 Pieces)

 Blue Spot 04312 6 Piece Flex Ratchet Spanners

 

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The Best Allen Keys (hex keys)

 

I use hex (Allen) keys a lot and get well annoyed when I can't get enough purchase on the tool and end up skimming my knuckles or having to tap the tool in with a hammer.

These German made tools shown are amongst the best I have used but are pricey and can be hard to find. Wera and Wiha are both German companies who make top quality specialist Hex keys.

The best hex keys have a ball end so that you can even remove the bolts from an angle where access is restricted. These ones also have a magic ring that clips into the bolt and holds it if you want to lift it out from confined spaces.

For general workshop use I like the Allen keys with a big T grip handle and having them in a rack on your bench is also very helpful. The Draper set come with a stand and have 2 working ends so give more options in tight spaces.

For mobile use the folding sets are best as you can use the storage compartment as a handle to get more grip.

Specialist Allen Keys and Sets

 Draper 08375 Double-Ended T-Handle Hexagon Key Set

 I prefer to call these tools "Allen keys". Some people, (especially Americans) call them "hex keys"

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Best Quality Files - a workshop essential

After extensive use I can report that the new Bahco files with the soft touch handles are really good and seem to be very durable.

Files are one of those tools that require a lot of effort to use so you owe it to yourself to get the best.

This set of 5 Bahco files covers most applications and have holes in the handles for easy hanging above your workbench.

The engineering file is another essential tool for a workshop and they come in a massive range of shapes, sizes and cutting types.

The main problem with files is that the wooden handles are often vibrated off over years of use and can become annoying or even dangerous.

A new range of files is now available with top quality moulded soft touch handles that are comfortable and strong.

I am currently testing these files to see how durable they are and will report my findings in due course.

 Bahco 1-478-08-1-2 File set 5PC

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Angle Grinders Tested and Reviewed

Cheap and Small Angle Grinders for Workshop use

A small angle grinder is ideal for the home workshop as it enables you to cut or grind metals and other hard materials much faster than a saw or file.

Though I am great lover of top quality innovative products sometimes cheap tools are more appropriate- (especially when you're skint). 

For cutting and polishing metal or cutting stone and slabs you can't beat the ubiquitous angle grinder.

I bought this 580watt tool for about the price of a curry and can't believe how good it is for small jobs.

It also came with 2 discs  and spare motor brushes. The Black & Decker model below has even power and comes with 5 discs.

 

 BLACK+DECKER KG115A5-GB Small Angle Grinder with 5 Cutting Discs, 750 W, 115 mm - Black/Orange

Mains or Cordless Angle Grinder? Which is Best?

 

DeWalt 18V XR Lithium-Ion Body Only Grinder

A cordless angle grinder is so handy for workshop use.

Angle grinders are one of the most power hungry tools especially if used to cut brick or concrete so until recently have not been viable as a battery powered tool.

The recent addition of 5 and 6 amp hour 18v Li-ion batteries has been a game changer so for many people the cordless angle grinder is now a must have tool.

It is rather expensive so a bit of a luxury in the workshop but more practical for outside use.

The Dewalt DCG412N is superb and uses 125mm discs that can be changed without using a tool.

 DeWalt DCG412N 18V XR Cordless Angle Grinder 125mm With DS300 Kitbox

 

Dremel Pro for Intricate Polishing/Cutting/Grinding

For really small cutting , grinding and polishing jobs a hand held multi tool is ideal. Dremel has been the market leader in powered multi-tools for many years.

From the original mains powered hobby tool it has been improved many times and now has an incredible range of accessories.

One of the best versions is the  10.8 volt cordless Dremel using a superior Lithium ion battery.

It comes with charger and accessories in a sturdy case and impressed me with it's power.

I also tried a couple of the cheaper copies of this tool and always go back to my Drem due to the quality of the battery, its reliability and level of control.

This is one little tool every home or workshop should own. I use my Dremel for drilling very small holes, polishing metal, removing rust from small components, grinding out wood in recesses for locks, sharpening tools, and a host of other jobs

The Cordless Dremel is handy for quick little jobs outside of the workshop. If you don't really need a cordless one get the cheaper mains powered version as it has more power and will always be ready without needing a charge. Or if you have a workshop and work outside too get both as the tools accessories are the same for each.

 

Dremel is made by Bosch and uses Bosch Li-ion Batteries

 Dremel 3000-15 Corded Multitool (130 W), 15 Accessories

 Dremel 8200-1/35 Cordless Multitool Li-Ion (10.8 V), 1 Attachment, 35 Accessories

 

Dremel Accessories and Tool Kits

Buying an individual tool for your Dremel in places like B&Q works out very expensive so it is cheaper to buy a whole new kit of tools rather than individually. When you buy a kit or Tin of Dremel tools it will usually say 100 pieces or 250 tools but in fact you will get about 10 tools and 90 little grinding discs or polishing pads. Some people find this a bit misleading and are very disappointed.

Should you buy the genuine Dremel accessories or the cheaper copies from companies like Rolson and Blue Spot?

To test the difference I bought a cheap Blue Spot accessory pack and was quite pleased with it. The tools fit the Dremel and seem to be as durable.

The main drawback to these budget price packs seems to be the poor packaging with boxes that either hold onto the tools too tightly or not at all and boxes that you cant open without everything flying out. If you can put up with this or transfer your accessories to another box then these cheap kits are worth getting.

if you use a Dremel type tool make sure you have good safety glasses as bits of material tend to fly off when you are grinding, cutting and sharpening.

 SAFETY GOGGLES by Draper

 Blue Spot 216 Piece Rotary Tool Kit

 

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Multi-purpose VDE Pliers for Electrical Work

These Draper Ergo Plus VDE Combination Pliers have 7 functions to cover the most common electrical jobs.

Red and Yellow Pliers are specially insulated and certified for electrical use.

The 7 functions include 3 different wire cutters and a crimper. Also pattress screw cutters for those M3 and M5 screws that hold sockets in but are often too long. There is also a wire looping device so you can nicely loop wire to place around terminals.

The pliers are very well made and have a new ergonomic shape that make them comfortable to hold.

Full time professional electricians will have a range of pliers but if you are short of tool box space or not a specialist then these pliers will serve you well.

 Draper 05046 190mm Expert Ergo Plus Fully Insulated High Leverage VDE Combination Pliers

 

Silicone Rescue Tape

  

I deliberately cut a hole in this hose and repaired it with  Silicone Self Fusing Tape.

It held for quite a while until a severe frost got at it. To be fair I should have extended it further up the hose though.

This new product was developed for the US navy to repair leaks and holes in boats. It is now available to everyone and is a potentially lifesaving product that will make a valuable addition to every boat owner and auto repairers tool kit.

The MAGIC property of this tape is that it melts into itself and forms a very strong, watertight and heat resistant seal.

The tape comes in a reel and is not sticky in any way. Only when you stretch it does it begin to melt, stick together and form a seal.

 Everbuild 2SWELDBK Silweld Silicone Self Fusing Tape - Black

I also used it to hold the tubes of my wheelchair together as an emergency repair when it snapped in half! This was very successful and now I keep my rescue tape handy at all times.

I am very impressed with this product and will be reporting on its long term performance.

They claim it can be applied to wet material - even underwater!

Quik Tape and Rescue Tape are 2 other brands and available in various colours.

 

Need a Permanent Fix?

 FiberFix Repair Wrap Medium (5cm x 127cm)

 FiberFix Repair Wrap Large (10cm x 152cm)

Fibrefix is a new product that is designed to permanently seal holes and cracks in a range of materials.

It is widely used by boat and kayak owners in case of emergencies but I have seen it used to fix broken tool handles and legs of tables and chairs.

 

Which is the Best Glue?

 As a self certified "master bodger" I have been using all sorts of glues for over 40 years and have come to realise that you cant believe the manufacturers claims on many of them.

Most glues are only good for limited applications and these are what they demonstrate at shows and on the adverts. What they don't tell you is that the glue may be virtually useless for most things you buy it for. So remember no glue that does everything, and there are some materials like car trim that is made from heat laminated polyurethane and cant be glued at all!

 When it comes to Glue you you need to chose carefully for the material and job you have to do.

"Super glue " is an example. If you want a fantastic glue to stick your fingers together or repair a cut on your head, then superglue is the one.

If you have something wooden that has split - forget it. If I do need to stick something small and plastic together then I use the Bison superglue Gel, as it does not dry so quickly and gives you time to position things accurately.

Superglue is best for small components with a close fit. That is why it is called a "contact" adhesive. Bison superglue gel is very good.

 Many glues come with applicators that will cause the glue to dry up and have a short shelf life. The best way to extend the life of your glue is to make sure you squeeze all the air out if it whenever possible.

Gorilla superglue has a neat little pin in the cap to help keep the nozzle clear- I wish other glue manufacturers would do this.

I am a big fan of Araldite glue and have used it for over 30 years. Sometimes I can't be bothered to mix it up so often I use Unibond Extreme repair glue which is very reliable and squeezes from one small tube.

Unibond Repair Extreme is ideal for quick & easy,  small repair jobs to plastic and a wide range of materials.

Best Glue to repair wooden garden furniture

Recently I have been looking for a strong glue to repair wooden furniture that is kept outside, in all weathers. Gorilla glue is an amazing product that expands to fill any gaps and claims to be waterproof. My repaired wooden furniture has survived 3 years now and so has the concrete Lion head that I glued back onto a statue. Gorilla Glue also make a dedicated wood glue that has a neat built in adapter and anti-clogging device. The specialised wood glue is not as waterproof as the normal Gorilla Glue which is totally waterproof and meets industry standard D3.

So far I am impressed with the result and will conduct long term tests to see how strong this glue is compared to my other favourites.

Fred's Favourite Glues

Unibond Repair Extreme 

Gorilla Glue 60ml

 Araldite 2-Tubes Rapid Epoxy, 15 ml

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 Thanks - Fred

 

 

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Fred Walden 2017